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What's the future of 3d?

Blog
12 March 2013

Broadcast 3D TV, although in its infancy, is a burgeoning market. In the UK, Sky and the BBC are dabbling while in the US, 3net offers a mix of three dimensional programming. Meanwhile the really exciting growth area for 3D is the Far East; China is planning a massive push into the marketplace with the launch of ten channels in 2016.

A growing number of video-on-demand operators are actively pursuing independent producers for content, usually via a profit share model. Several offer Smart TV or mobile/tablet apps that deliver stereoscopic content, developed either by the manufacturer such as Sony, LG or Samsung, or by third parties such as Yabazam, 3Doo or SpatialView.

Despite all of this, the biggest hurdle for the future of the 3D market is often cited as the “fact” that consumers don’t actually want 3D. Yet figures from cinema receipts dispute this, with half the top ten grossing films in 2011 and 2012 being made in 3D. From personal experience, on occasions where I offer both a 3D and 2D version of a film I have made on YouTube, the 3D version typically gets between five and 45 times more views. Online audiences are actively selecting to watch content in 3D.

So what is the current state of the 3D nation?

The desperate attempt of film studios to reap more cash from their product, while attempting to combat piracy, has no doubt helped initiate the latest wave of stereo 3D products. However, the fact that 3D is not maintaining the momentum to deliver to overambitious early indicators, not dissimilar to the dot.com boom and bust, simply proves the initial beliefs were wrong, not that 3D is dead in the water.

The worst-case scenario moving forward is that 3D proves to be a specialist niche market. If it is indeed proven to be a niche it will be a substantial one with an enthusiastic, content hungry audience; one that has proven willingness to spend a little extra for the added dimension so long as quality is maintained.

With the improvements in technology for both creation and display of stereoscopic content, along with bigger budgets, high profile filmmakers, wider exhibition and distribution platforms, we are in caught in the grip of the biggest 3D wave yet. Whether it maintains the same initial momentum is neither here nor there. With the scale of this latest wave it seems highly unlikely this will simply end, as previous attempts at bringing 3D to the mainstream have. This time it’s for real; The ‘Golden Age’ of 3D is with us.

Andrew Murchie is director of Multiply


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